Last Day of Language Classes

3/29/2013

Today was the last day of my French language courses! I am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to study with people who came from Minnesota, Nevada, Cuba, Morocco, Sweden, Spain, and Germany! It was one of my greatest experiences thus far in embracing diversity as well as improving my French. In many cases, the common language was French, so it was really good to have to speak French all day long. My teachers were extremely helpful, and I feel like my French has improved so much here!

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Chocolate Factory

3/23/2013

Normally when my imagination leads to the thought of being in a room with over thousands of chocolate bars, I could drool and not feel bad about it. However, today I had to keep it together because today it happened in real life! A few of my friends and I took a train to Oloron today to visit the Lindt Chocolate Factory! It was such a nice day out. We ate a pizzeria and were mesmerized by the variety of French music videos that were playing on TV. They were..interesting to put it lightly. Afterwards, we walked to the chocolate factory and stuffed our bags full of chocolate to bring home to family and friends. We walked around Oloron afterwards to get a better feel for the town. I swear France has a cathedral or two in EVERY single town. They all have different architecture and it’s neat to see that sometimes the towns are built around them. image

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 We took the train back to Pau in the late afternoon and luckily got to watch the sunset. It was a perfect end to an awesome day. :)image


DELF

3/14/2013

Today I took my DELF exam to be certified level of French. If I passed this exam, I will be able to teach in France if I so choose. The exam consisted of four parts; oral comprehension, reading comprehension, one essay, and an oral presentation in front of professors at the University. We have been preparing for the exam for a while now, so I hope that I did well!


Back to Pau

3/6/2013 - 3/9/2013

When we got to airport to go back to Pau, the airline said there was too much wind for any plane to be taking off. No planes would be taking off until the next day, but we decided that was too late. We rushed to the train station and literally ran to the train to hope on it as it was leaving the station. We got to Pau pretty late and ate a wonderful restaurant where my Dad and I proceeded to eat MORE mussels because we are Credilles, and we are capable of such things. The next day, I had class, so my parents walked around Pau by themselves and did their own personal tour (which I’m sure included them getting lost and not knowing how to tell someone that). Once I was done, we had dinner with my host mom. I was so nervous for that meal you would have thought that I was bringing a new boyfriend to meet the family.  The meal was great. Flo speaks English very well and followed almost the entire conversation. She was a little thrown off when my Dad asked if she was related to anyone who was famous or if she knew anybody that lived in the castle…Needless to say, my mom and I put our heads in our hands after those thought provoking questions. It was awesome to have my real parents meet Flo and see where she lives and what she does. I love my host family, so it was really nice to have my real family meet my French family. I am constantly reminded how blessed I am to be here and have all of the opportunities that I have come across while abroad.

Saying goodbye to my parents was bittersweet. I was excited to get on to more travels with friends, but sad to see them leave a place they barely got to know. How was I supposed to show them France in one week!? It was the perfect time for them to come since I am now at the halfway point of my stay in France. I can look forward to seeing them soon and be grateful that I got to share some of my once in a lifetime experience with them.


Cassis with My Family!

3/4/2013 - 3/6/2013

Our trip to Marseilles turned more into a trip to Cassis. All of the cab drivers we had said that Marseille was a dangerous city for tourists and kind of scared us out of exploring the sites. We decided to go to Cassis instead by train, which turned out to be my favorite place I have visited so far. The water is beautiful and the town is quaint. It reminds me of the cute downtown area in Pentwater, Michigan where my next door neighbors have a lake house. We ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant and walked around to shop for a the afternoon. The next day we came back and ate at a restaurant that had a better view of the water. Up until now, we hadn’t had any major miscommunications between locals and us…key words..up until now. We ordered mussels to split between us, and I thought the waiter said that there were only three mussels for each order. We were pretty hungry, so we decided that we would order three separate plates of mussels, so there would be nine total. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on which way you look at it..), we got three orders of mussels except for the part where there were supposedly three mussels in each order. It turns out there are thirteen mussels in each order! We had 39 mussels served to our table, and the weird look the waiter gave us when we told him our order all made sense at that moment. After our jaws dropped to the floor, we attempted to eat as many  as we could. They were really good if that counts for anything!

Next, we went on a hike to the calanques of Cassis which are essentially big cliffs with beautiful views of the water and a relaxing hike. We hung out watching the waves for a few hours we loved it so much! It was our last day before showing my parents Pau, so we spent as much time in Cassis as we could.

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Tom and Cecil in the House!

3/1/2013 - 3/4/2013

I finally got to see my parents! I was so excited for them to come and spend some time with me over here in France. They visited Paris for a week while I had classes, and I took a flight to go see them and begin our adventures once my Spring Break began. I flew in to Paris, and we hopped right on a train to go to Avignon to relax for a few days.Avignon is a beautiful French city with a lot of history attached to it. We visited the Palais des Papes and walked around the rest of the day.

We walked on the Pont d’Avignon, which is a bridge that was constructed hundreds of years ago. Only part of the bridge remains today, so we could walk to the middle of the river where the bridge ends. If you turn around at that point, you can see the wall that the rest of Avignon is surrounded by and all of the older monuments that have been preserved.

We relaxed the rest of the afternoon at an outdoor cafe while we saw street performers and people watched! It felt so strange to actually have my parents here in France with me. It was so good to see them. They’re really excited whenever I have an opportunity to use my French when we go places. They like me being the translator but it gets tiring after a while when I keep switching my languages back and forth between French and English! Nonetheless I think they are impressed with my ability to speak and understand the people around us!

The next day, we went on a river cruise for the afternoon where we ate some AWESOME French food. The views were so pretty the entire time. We also got to see the complete change in water levels on the river where the boat had to be lifted and let down in order to keep going.

After the boat ride was over, we went back into the city to walk the gardens. They were absolutely beautiful, and we were able to hang out there until dinner time.

We ate a small, French restaurant where the people sitting next to us talked to us about France and how awesome it was that we were visiting. They even offered us their bottle of wine! We also bonded over our love for French desserts. I translated the entire conversation. It’s a pretty cool feeling when I can take it from French to English now without second guessing myself. We went to bed a bit early so we wouldn’t be too tired for our trip to Marseille the next day!


St. Jean Pied de Port, Biarritz, and San Sebastian

2/23/13 - 2/24/13

This weekend was the next excursion with USAC to St. Jean Pied de Port, Biarritz, and a few of us split off at the end of the day to go to Sans Sebastian for the night. We took a bus to St. Jean de Port where we had about an hour to walk around. The town wasn’t that big so we mainly just admired the views. We also walked up a huge hill to walk around the citadel.

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Kate, Hailey, and I

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Skinny Streets!

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Morning time in France

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Random view that I really loved over Nive River

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Morning time in France

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Citadel

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Citadel

After an hour of sight seeing we got back on the bus to head to Biarritz. It was snowing when we got there! Being able to look at the Mediterranean Sea and snow at the same time was fun until the point where I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore.

imageSnowing while I have this view!

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Snow and Seas all in one!

We rushed to the train to make it to Sans Sebastian and find our hotel. That was an adventure in itself. It was in the old part of the city above a store. We finally found it and began our hunt to find tapas. The hunt lasted for about five seconds since everywhere you looked there were tapas just waiting on huge plates in the windows. We walked into one restaurant and tried to figure out the system but failed miserably. Finally, one of the servers helped us out and just gave us all of the food we wanted. After we ate we had a night out on the town which included blow horns, men in green wigs, and midgets. I’ll just leave it at that. In the morning we decided instead of breakfast we wanted gelato. It was one of the best decisions we made all weekend!!!! image

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It was raining really hard, so we didn’t have too much motivation to walk around while it was pouring and caught an earlier train home. It was an eventful weekend to say the least, and I slept VERY well on Sunday night.


"Lend me your eyes I can change what you see, but your soul you must keep totally free." - Mumford & Sons

"Lend me your eyes I can change what you see, but your soul you must keep totally free." - Mumford & Sons


Station de Ski - Gourette

2/17/13


I finally went skiing for the first time since my knees surgeries in high school! Kate, Hailey, and Hailey’s french host sister came with. We took a bus for about an hour in order to get to the Pyrenees mountains. The entire ride was basically spent saying oh and ah at all of the scenery. I don’t think the countryside is capable of looking anything less than perfect! I could not be more excited about getting back on the slopes after everything. I was pretty scared, especially after accidentally ending up on some harder slopes than anticipated with Hailey when we decided to be adventurous, but I never fell and had a great time the entire day. The view from the top of the mountains is one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. When we finished skiing we went into a restaurant where I proceeded to order what would be the best cup of hot chocolate on the planet.  Today was one of the greatest experiences I have had not even just in France but ever. I am so lucky and couldn’t be happier!

imageI can’t get over how lucky I am to be able to casually see this AND be able to ski on a Sunday afternoon.

imageKate and I at the top of the mountain!

imageHailey and I stopping to take a picture since we were lost anyways!

imageA view from the bus on the way home. I will never get sick of this country!

imageTHE BEST CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD!

imageView while skiing down the mountain.


Parade!

2/09/13

Today was one of my best days in France so far! This week has been Le Carnival de Pau where they celebrate for a week straight. There are tons of events and things to do downtown the entire time. I was shopping with Kate trying to find another pair of boots since the soles of mine broke because of how much walking we do here when we walked outside to find ourselves in the middle of a parade!

Everyone was dressed up in really funny costumes like Halloween. A guy was even dressed up as a fisherman and was smacking people in the face with a raw fish tied to a pole. I’m pretty sure I think it’s hilarious solely because I watched people get hit and it never touched me. There were a lot of people on stilts that passed by too. It was really cool to see the different floats and music playing for each group.


After we watched the parade go by, we went back on our shoe hunt. We finally found a pair at a cute store where the owner talked to us about how awesome studying abroad (especially in Pau ;] ) is for opening up opportunities as well as improving your French. It was helpful to have someone allowing us to mess up our French without switching the conversation to English. A lot of times, if we can’t think of a word, people will change the conversation to English thinking that will help us out. Instead, he let us talk around words if we didn’t know them in French. It all was a simple reminder to not get frustrated that our French isn’t perfect. He said, “Learning a language is a marathon not a race. You must learn to walk before you can run.” This conversation sounds way more intense than it really was, but Kate and I got a lot out of that interaction. French people are so friendly.


I came home today to have dinner with Flo and the boys. We ate la raclette, which is a DELICIOUS dish that is extremely popular in the southern region of France. We were given a potato, three different types of meat, and a bunch of different kinds of cheese. We heated the cheese in machine in the middle of the table so we could pour it on the meat or potato. I loved eating with them because their meals always last for up to two hours just talking to each other. It’s a perfect way for me to practice my French and get to know them better. The kids are so funny, and Flo is a great mom. This was an AWESOME day here!